Presidential statement a must for Syria: Australia

Draft statement urges Syrian authorities to promptly facilitate "safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need through most effective ways"

Presidential statement a must for Syria: Australia

Gary Quinlan, Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN and Chairperson of UN Security Council on Monday said he expected unified presidential statement on, what he called “accelerating humanitarian catastrophe" in Syria – to be adopted by not later then Wednesday.

Building on a last UN Security Council (UNSC) unified spirit, after resolution was adopted on Syrian chemical weapons last Friday -- Australia and Luxembourg circulated a draft Presidential statement on aid delivery crisis in Syria.

The draft statement urges the Syrian authorities to promptly facilitate "safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need through the most effective ways."

Consensus in sight again

Speaking to a AA at the United Nations, UNSC members decided to pursue a statement, rather than a resolution -- to avoid possible showdown with Moscow and Beijing, as Western media reported – Quinlan said – that was not the case:

“That is not true,” Australian ambassador told AA at his end of the Security Council Presidency press conference on Monday.

“We are all aware of different attitude of a different Council Members, and there are 15 members of the council” Quinlan told AA, avoiding to finger point either Russia, or China.

Russia and China three times vetoed UNSC resolutions since October 2011. Legally binding resolutions would have been a basis for punishing Syrian regime with sanctions or threatened it with military power.

There are “number of countries” that did have differences “in the past,” Quinlan went to explain.

But, after the closed door UNSC consultation that he had participated on Monday afternoon, he was able to confirm “there is a strong unanimity in favor of a quick presidential statement given the gravity (of the Syrian) situation,” Quinlan told AA.

However, earlier - Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin very clearly stated that Moscow would support a push for cross-border access only if government in Damascus approved it.

In response to AA question, Quinlan, also mentioned that the language in the current presidential statement “was agreed back in April -- that cross-border would be looked at, if necessary, if circumstances requires that, but in accord with the principles which have been established now since 1991.”

In accordance with the mentioned principles, UN principle humanitarian aid was delivered in Former Yugoslavia during the war in Bosnia and Croatia from 1991 to 1995.

At the United Nations some diplomats are still concerned that Moscow is unlikely to back a UNSC declaration which urges Syrian government to allow the humanitarian assistance to flow across borders.

Practical issues

The draft presidential statement call for all parties to agree on how to secure “key routes” - upon notification from relief agencies – and allow passage of humanitarian convoys “along these routes.”

Quinlan said UN Security Council was sensitive to the political difficulties regarding the Syria crisis, but presidential statement “is very pragmatic” and deals with “tactical objectives.”

“Humanitarian access, approvals of convoys, visas, customs… all of these very, very practical matters that need to be addressed that facilitate humanitarian access,” Quinlan said.

According to UN, only 12 international aid groups and NGO’s are authorized by the government in Damascus to deliver aid in convoys, but delayed -- having to negotiate at government and opposition checkpoints.

Resolution could follow

Unlike a resolution, a presidential statement is not legally binding.

Yet, Quinlan underlined the presidential statement “can, of course, always be converted to a resolution, and number of council members have pointed this out.”

“The need now is a unified message, now – quickly, with (humanitarian) agencies themself saying to us this would make a difference – PRST (presidential statement) – to us on the ground,” Quinlan said.

Chief UN humanitarian aid coordinator Valerie Amos sent the list of those needs to the Security Council last month that included advance notice of military offensives.

Azerbaijan presides in October

The expectations are, the presidential statement, which according to the rules and procedures has to be adopted with full consensus of all 15 members, will indeed boost aid access in Syria, diplomats say.

Ambassador Garry Quinlan of Australia handed over his duty as Chairperson of UN Security Council immediately after midnight, on October 1, to ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan.

AA

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Ekim 2013, 10:29

Muhammed Öylek

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